Paul Wertico Trio | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Paul Wertico Trio

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PAUL WERTICO TRIO

Hyperkinetic drummer Paul Wertico established this trio in 1994, and since then it's grown into his primary expressive outlet. It's unusual for Wertico to concentrate on one project like this: in the past, whenever he came off the road from his regular gig with the Pat Metheny Group, within days he'd have arranged a dizzying number of appearances to try out new sounds with different bands he'd assembled. So when he all but abandoned these other interests for this trio, it was as if a busy bachelor had settled down with his true love. On guitar, John Moulder can slash and burn with surprising ferocity, adding a touch of the gothic to the romantic heart of his sound. (His style also borrows a little of the velvet fire of Allan Holdsworth, but such easy comparisons don't do justice to Moulder's foxy, original presence.) And bassist Eric Hochberg, after years of jingles and jobbing, has been reborn in the 90s through his work with this trio and guitarist Terry Callier: Hochberg doesn't sacrifice texture for power, and his 25-year friendship with Wertico manifests itself in their ball-and-socket interplay. The group has evolved into one terrific ride, thanks to several short tours over the last few years (one of which was documented on last year's Live in Warsaw! on Igmod) and some recent Internet broadcasts--and this weekend it'll appear fresh from recording a new album Wertico hopes to have out by early Y2K. The band can certainly rock, with flashy skeins of moaning guitar and percolating bass lines. But all three members are gifted, flexible, and intuitive mainstream jazzmen, so the music can range all over Wertico's extremely broad palette--from reconstructed hard bop to heavy metal to South American pop to high-energy free improvisation. Friday, 9 PM, and Saturday, 8 PM, Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway; 773-878-5552. NEIL TESSER

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